Frightfest presents Night Drive on digital from October 11th
The sun may be shining, but it’s Christmas in the City of Angels as we meet ride-share driver Russell (AJ Bowen), a man busily trying to earn a living on the streets of Los Angeles. Russell is a nice guy, and his car journeys are always full of conversation as he strives to offer the best customer service But ride-share drivers never quite know who their next customer will be, as Russell discovers when he picks up a young woman named Charlotte (Sophie Dalah). Charlotte is enigmatic, chatty and alive with energy but also mysterious and aloof; she’s fascinating! Her instructions are simple; she wants to be driven to her ex-boyfriend’s house, there Russell is to sit in the car while she collects her belongings. Simple, right? Russell pulls up outside the house and patiently waits while Charlotte goes inside, she then reappears carrying a small case, but rather than walking, she is running toward the car! As she climbs in, she orders Russell to STEP ON IT! Confused, Russell does as she asks. It is now clear to Russell that Charlotte may be far more complicated than he thought. But the night has only just begun, and it’s not long before Russell finds himself engulfed in murder, mystery and mayhem.
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At its heart Night Drive is a deliciously different take on the classic crime caper road movie. Here it resembles the tonal beats of shows like Breaking Bad and films like Detour. But Night Drive has an ace up its sleeve that is as bonkers as it is brilliant. Directed by Brad Baruh and Meghan Leon, Night Drive is one hell of a creative Christmas road trip that never falls into lazy, tried and tested-tropes but instead offers us a killer twist that defies the roots of its initial set-up. With exceptional performances from Dalah and Bowen, it’s the kind of anti-Christmas film I love as a delicious crime caper descends down a rabbit hole of no return.
We all love a haunted house movie, right? On first appearance, BJ Vernot’s new film would appear to fall directly into the traditional haunted house genre. After all, here we have a young man, Roger (Richard Harmon), returning to his family home following the sudden death of his father, where he is greeted by a mysterious apparition that emanates from the walls. However, BJ Vernot’s film is not what it initially appears to be, as it throws us a curveball of epic proportions. Much like the recent Ghosts of War, The Return is a sci-fi thriller in supernatural clothing. I am not about to ruin the twists, but as with many films that attempt to transcend genre boundaries, there are a few big problems. The first of these is that many people will have guessed the twist long before it’s revealed and the second sees the final act descend into farce. However, despite these three flaws, there is much to admire and enjoy, and The Return is creative and engaging, if not perfect.